The Newcastle United squad flew out to Ireland on Wednesday.
Their pre-season training camp is being hosted by Carton House in County Kildare.
The hotel/complex is near Dublin, where Newcastle will play their first pre-season friendly against St Patrick’s Athletic on Tuesday night.
This is now the third pre-season in a row where Rafa Benitez has travelled with his players to the same location.
After promotion as champions and a tenth place in the Premier League, why change it?
Normally, the club reveal each time who is in the Newcastle United squad that travels for this pre-season trip, which then allows us to quickly work out who hasn’t travelled…
This time the club haven’t confirmed who has gone, whether that is simply an oversight or to lower the conversation on why others haven’t gone, who knows?
However, after looking through the various stuff from the club and media, this appears to be the entire travelling party.
That makes 28 in the travelling squad and as for those missing:
Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ki Sung-yueng have extended holiday due to World Cup commitments.
Chancel Mbemba is reported by north east media to have been told to stay at home in anticipation of a transfer soon…
Also missing are Achraf Lazaar, Jack Colback and Henri Saivet, none of them having playing futures at the club.
Whilst 28 suggests a strong/big squad for the coming season,the reality is maybe something quite different.
For starters, the Newcastle United squad in Ireland includes seven younger players who won’t be in first team squad contention this season, with most going out on loan: Adam Armstrong, Victor Fernandez, Sean Longstaff, Callum Roberts. Jamie Sterry, Freddie Woodman, and Josef Yarney also travelled to Ireland. Sterry is looking for another club as he is also one who Rafa is looking at.
So if you take these seven above away, we are left with 21 players in Ireland.
Four of those 21 are goalkeepers (Sels, Darlow, Elliot and Dubravka), which then leaves 17 outfield players.
With it being revealed on Saturday that Isaac Hayden is set to move back down south due to family/personal reasons, this leaves 16:
I think it is clear Joselu, Javier Manquillo and Rolando Aarons don’t have what it takes, whilst maybe Jacob Murphy will have one day, but nothing to suggest that will be this season (when it comes to thinking which players are/aren’t good enough, I simply ask myself that if they left Newcastle, would another PL club sign them?).
That leaves us with Mohamed Diame, Paul Dummett, Dwight Gayle, Kenedy, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, Ayoze Perez, Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey and DeAndre Yedlin, which is basically the team (with Dubravka) that played will in the final three months of the season.
You also have Christian Atsu and Ciaran Clark as squad players, making for me a decent dozen outfield players plus goalkeepers.
Mitro is surely leaving so with Ki Sung-yueng to add, we appear to have goalkeepers plus 13 decent/good enough outfield players as it stands.
If once the Premier League season starts and the transfer window has ended, we are relying once again on the likes of Joselu and Manquillo (and others) to help us make a squad of 18 on matchdays, then Newcastle will face a massive struggle this coming season.
Quality players need to be signed and soon.